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Master of Fine Arts Program


Please see the “Graduate Admissions” section of this site.

About The Dance M.F.A.

The University of Washington Department of Dance offers a Master of Fine Arts degree that prepares dance artists (who've had a minimum of eight years professional performance experience) for entry into the academic setting. This full two-year program begins in mid June and runs for two years including the interim summer months. It is an intensive, yet reflective period, during which M.F.A. candidates are supported in the development of an academic dimension to their creative work in dance. M.F.A. candidates receive a tuition waiver and earn a monthly stipend in exchange for working as a Teaching Assistant in the Department of Dance.

Dance faculty work with M.F.A. candidates to develop an individualized course of study. Three seminars taken in the first year provide the opportunity to investigate the relationship of dance to higher education, learn the nuts and bolts of dance administration and engage in rigorous scholarship that contributes new areas of knowledge to the field of dance studies. Courses in production, dance technology and composition provide additional support for the transition into university teaching and production of new creative work.

Graduate students also perform annually with The Chamber Dance Company (CDC), the resident modern dance company of the University of Washington. CDC provides an opportunity to work with their peers in the reconstruction and restaging of historic and contemporary dances.

Interdisciplinary study is another foundation of the M.F.A. curriculum. Graduate students complete courses in other disciplines that support the development and teaching of their Masters Project—an upper division academic course. As a leading research institution, the University of Washington provides a fertile environment for inquiry into many dance–related areas including anatomy, aesthetics, anthropology, history/criticism and digital technology.

Since the inception of the degree in 1990, graduates have achieved immense success in the fields of education, performance, choreography, administration and production. Graduates have been recipients of prestigious grants and awards including a National Dance Project Grant and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Alumni have secured positions at numerous state and public institutions of higher learning, including: University of Utah, Sonoma State University, Bucknell College, Bates College, University of South Florida, Texas Women’s University, George Mason University, Bryn Mawr, Cornish College for the Arts, University of Nebraska, University of Washington, University of Western Washington, Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, the Northwest School and the Pacific Northwest Ballet.

The UW Department of Dance is committed to making a performer’s transition into university teaching a rich and supportive experience.

"The M.F.A. program in dance at the University of Washington provides excellent instruction in all aspects of university teaching and administration. In 1996, my transition from M.F.A. candidate to full-time faculty at Kent State University was remarkably easy, and my subsequent positions at the University of Washington and Bryn Mawr College have benefitted from my M.F.A. experiences. I would recommend the program to any professional dancer who seriously is considering a career transition into teaching."
-Rebecca Malcolm


During the two-year program, a student will be expected to enroll full-time (minimum of 10 credits/quarter). Beginning in 2007, summer quarters are included. A student must complete at least 72 credits, 31 of which are in required courses, in order to earn the degree.

Required Coursework For All M.F.A. Candidates:

DANCE 510 Chamber Dance Production

Study of dance production in a university environment. Includes rehearsal and performance of Chamber Dance Company repertoire. (12 credits)

DANCE 515 Dance Research Methods

Seminar in problem identification and definition, theory development and research design. Practice in writing for dance journals. (3 credits)

DANCE 516 Dance Research Methods

(3 credits)

DANCE 520 Dance in Higher Education

Discussion, writing and observation of dance in higher education. Readings include Dewey, H'Doubler, Whitehead, Van Dyke, Fichter. (3 credits)

DANCE 521 Dance Administration

Readings and discussion relating to dance administration in the university setting. Topics include: curricular development, academic advising, personnel issues, faculty searches and issues related to dance as a performing art within the university structure. (3 credits)

DANCE 530 Choreographer/Composer Collaboration

Collaboration between choreographers and graduate students in DX Arts: models and creative workshop projects, toward a concert of collaborative work. (2 credits)

DANCE 531 Choreographer/Composer Collaboration Performance

A seminar class exploring issues in dance composition and the teaching of dance composition in higher education. (6 credits)

DANCE 570 Dance Production Seminar

A seminar class exploring the process of dance production from audition to performance. Managing design, technology, and personnel to support the creative process from conceptual stages to production. (3 credits)

DANCE 595 Master's Project

Development and teaching of an academic course in area of specialization. Course proposals are developed in consultation with the Graduate Advisor and submitted to the full faculty for approval at the end of the first year. The area of specialization must be supported with a minimum of 24 credits in related elective course work. (3 credits)

Coursework Or Competency

Students must have taken the following courses as an undergraduate, or have mastered the content of the following courses through practical experience, or complete these courses during their two years in the Program:

  • DANCE 420: Dance Aesthetics (3 credits)
  • DANCE 493: Anatomy for Dancers (5 credits)
  • DANCE 544: Early Dance History (3-5 credits)
  • DANCE 545: Late Dance History (3-5 credits)
  • DANCE 590: Dance Teaching Methodologies (3 credits)